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What to Know About Apps for Blind People

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on October 19, 2022

In a world largely made by the sighted, low-vision and blind individuals face daily challenges, whether it’s doing errands, taking care of chores at home, preparing meals, or recognizing objects. 

Vision loss is a common problem, especially for those who are older. In fact, 20% of those who are older than 85 have permanent vision loss. Many Americans are low-vision, meaning they have difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses. Many more cannot see at all.

This large population benefits from assistive technology, which includes apps for visually impaired people. These apps can help them enjoy certain activities and navigate life more easily. 

Image Recognition Apps for the Visually Impaired 

Among the apps for low vision are image recognition apps. These apps help visually impaired individuals, whether blind or low-vision, identify objects around them without assistance from a sighted individual. You can find these apps on both Android and iOS, so they cater to a wide audience of visually impaired people. 

These apps typically allow you to take a photo of an object at any angle, and then they read back the object’s description so that you can identify it. 

Image recognition apps also have other cool features. Depending on the app you download, you may find features such as: 

  • Identifying photos from your camera’s photo roll 
  • Saving photos to your phone with definitions so you can easily reuse them 
  • Having important information related to you, such as exit signs, nearby people and objects, bathrooms, and text from a book 
  • Identifying people 
  • Using streaming video from your phone’s camera to be analyzed 
  • Identifying furniture around your room
  • Contacting live volunteers to help you when needed 
  • Providing you with insight on matching your clothes 
  • Helping you identify currency

Reading Apps for the Visually Impaired

Being visually impaired doesn't mean you don't love to read. You can choose the reading app for visually impaired users that best lets you enjoy the calmness of reading. Tablets, such as the iPad, Kindle, and Samsung Galaxy, have all contributed to the accessibility of reading apps for the visually impaired.

Unlike traditional books, reading apps for visually impaired users give you the ability to enlarge text. Additionally, Apple and Android have two special features: VoiceOver and TalkBack, which read text out loud in an assistant voice. Again, you can find reading apps for both Android and iOS, plus Kindle, and even Windows has apps to help visually impaired individuals read. You’ll have an abundance of books and magazines at your disposal. 

Depending on the app you use, you can also find other features, including: 

  • Audio receivers 
  • Audio recordings of books and magazines
  • Podcast players 
  • Ability to download and stream content 
  • Text that wraps automatically, eliminating the need to scroll 
  • Many text options
  • Import of webpages, PDFs, and Word documents 

Navigation Apps for the Visually Impaired

Getting around can be a hassle when you’re visually impaired. It can be difficult and risky to find your way through unfamiliar spaces, whether you’re blind or just have low vision. Fortunately, there are plenty of navigation apps for visually impaired people that can help. 

While there are plenty of GPS navigation apps out there, very few provide features for visually impaired individuals, such as assistance with traveling with a cane or guide dog. However, thanks to Android and Apple, visually impaired individuals can access apps to help them navigate.

The features you can find with a navigation app for visually impaired users include: 

  • Navigating around large indoor areas via the shortest routes 
  • Navigating directions with talking maps
  • Connecting you with live assistants who can describe your environments

Other Apps for the Visually Impaired

Plenty of other apps are designed to help visually impaired people do specific tasks and activities. There are apps that can assist with just about anything you want to do: 

  • Shopping apps: Shopping apps help you find the best deals, including on useful items for visually impaired people such as talking products, accessible technology, and braille printers.
  • Socializing apps: Some socializing apps help you identify different emotions, turning the emotions into familiar sounds. Other socializing apps, such as the popular Instagram, have integrated a feature that allows alternative text to be read out loud so that users can hear descriptions of content.
  • Educational apps: Educational apps for the visually impaired are typically aimed at the younger generation. Plenty of apps focus on helping educate early learners with vision problems. There are apps to help visually impaired children draw, using crayons and colored pencils that look and feel real; apps that allow your child to experiment with sounds and fingerprinting; animated storybooks and picture books that help children with low vision; sequencing apps to help build memory; communication apps to help children create and share books with photos, drawings, stickers, and voice memos; apps that help children learn math; and gaming apps that both educate and entertain visually impaired children.
  • Delivery apps: There are also many delivery apps that can help deliver food, groceries, and other products to visually impaired individuals, allowing them to receive essential products and food without leaving home.
  • Travel apps: Well-known apps such as Uber and Lyft have ways for visually impaired individuals to start and manage rides so they can travel easily.

Show Sources

SOURCES: 
Administration for Community Living: “Apps for people who are blind or who have low vision.”
American Academy of Ophthalmology: “30 Apps, Devices and Technologies for People With Vision 
American Foundation for the Blind: “Statistical Snapshots from the American Foundation for the Blind.”, “Three Blindness-Aware Mobile Navigation Apps.”
AMERICAN NYSTAGMUS NETWORK: “Apps for the Visually Impaired.”
Partners For Sight: “Hungry? Use One of These Accessible Apps.”
Paths to Literacy: “Early Learning Apps – Part 2.”, “The 7 Best Apps to Help People with Visual Impairments Recognize Objects.”
Prevent Blindness: “Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the U.S.”
VisionAware: “Great Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.”
WA.gov: “Blindness-related Tools and Services.”

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